1 Corinthians 1:17 “Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel—not with wisdom and eloquence, or the cross of Christ would be emptied of its power.”
Whenever we look wise and powerful, the power and importance of the cross is diminished. Our time is often spent, especially as preachers, crafting the perfect message, response, or an entertaining act in front of others in order to gain their approval before we can speak the message of Christ to them. When we waste our time trying to look acceptable in front of people, when we try our best to look like we know so much, instead of delivering the simple truth and allowing that power to be what is noticed–we take away what we are even preaching about.
When we look so good, so talented, so funny…so whatever, the spotlight is on us. Some would argue that being eloquent regarding the things of God is of great benefit to the hearer because it keeps their attention, it shows that the person is a gifted speaker, or in general is just what makes for a good speaker/listener relationship. But think about it this way:
If you desperately NEED to know everything about Salmon, what would be the greatest service to you? Would it be to walk away feeling good about me as the speaker and how well you connected with my teaching style? Or would it be to walk away, maybe even forgetting who I am, and being completely schooled on Salmon? Obviously it is #2. But we make the mistake of making church about the speaker and not about Jesus. We forget that the reason we even go is because we desperately NEED to know everything about Jesus.
If we started making the prerequisite for preachers being how much they spoke the truth and not about how “good” they are as a speaker, church would look a lot different! Frankly, skill would not be needed.
The power of God is what changes lives, not people’s eloquence. Look for the speaker that leaves you completely edified because of the power of the Cross, not because of their personal abilities. In the church today we are guilty of wanting to be entertained, or even to be in the presence of great giftednesss. We are all gifted in Christ! The speaker should be so lucky to have the Christian janitor in their presence. Everyone is equal because of Jesus. It’s about Jesus, not us. It’s about the cross, not about the speaking abilities of the messenger. When you feel good at church because there was a great message given and then go home and act exactly the same, there has been a failure somewhere. When you weep because of the power of God you have truly experienced His Word.
It does not take SKILL to preach the TRUTH. It takes courage, conviction, and faith. In the case of Christ, skill often muddies the waters. Oh how we would live with fire if we just clung to the cross and forgot about all of the extra stuff we so desperately think we need.